Its March and you have, or just are, finishing your recruitment for next year. You feel confident that the right people are going to be in the right classrooms. But, looking beyond the classroom, how will these people work together to contribute towards achieving the school’s strategic objectives? Who will motivate and keep them on track? Who will clarify the work of the team and the roles of the individual members? Who will manage conflict at the team level so that senior leadership can stay focused on the bigger picture?
Whether a school recruits internally or externally for a middle leadership position, they should adhere to an interdisciplinary recruitment process. Also, whether or not the middle leader has a full-time teaching role, they should still have their job description evaluated and amended to clearly define the leadership responsibilities they are assuming, as well as the expectations and benefits that come with those responsibilities.
This school year hasn’t finished, but preparation for next school year is well underway. In the myriad of tasks most administrators won’t account for the time it takes to prepare middle leaders for their role in the coming year. Even if there is no change in grade level leader or department head roles, we can’t assume the next school year will be business as usual.
I am amazed how many middle leaders that attend my workshops don’t have job descriptions or amended working agreements to account for their ‘additional’ duties. Many don’t even know what is expected of them, other than what team members tell them the previous leader did. The number of schools that treat teacher-led role descriptions like a legend that gets handed down generation to generation is very unnerving.
Lets first consider the interdisciplinary approach to recruitment, for all middle leaders, even those that you assume will return to the same role. How well has, or will, next year’s middle leader collaborate with other leaders in the school? How resourceful are they in supporting the needs of their team? How have they measured up to other middle leaders?
There are a 3 essential questions that no person can answer alone. Even if you have identified a new recruit to assume a team leadership role, you will need to do a little more homework and put that person in touch with other leaders in the school that they will be working with, such as the PD and Curriculum Coordinators. For those that you assume will be returning to the role, and have expressed an interest in continuing in that role, how well have they worked with their peers and other leaders? These questions form part of a recruitment process and/or performance evaluation. They will help identify support these middle leaders need and that they can begin getting now in preparation for next year.
When you have answered these questions and assessed how the next school year may differ from this one (team composition, accreditation, new goals, etc) you then need to review the position description and either edit it in line with next years reality or reaffirm the expectations for the middle leaders based on this year’s reality. This is the most important part of achieving buy-in, and once buy-in is achieved you will find your middle leaders to be more accommodating and resilient to the unforeseen challenges that will inevitably occur next year.